Kentucky

Harlan Hubbard was Kentucky's Thoreau, and his journals are intimate records of a life lived in harmony with nature. For more than fifty years the artist, writer, and homesteader described daily activities and recorded keen observations as he sought to live simply and authentically. The third and climactic volume of his journals, Payne Hollow Journal, contains entries from the years he and his wife, Anna, lived at their Payne Hollow home along the Ohio River's Kentucky shore.

There they mastered the arts of country life, building their own stone and timber house in 1952 and raising their own food. To live with nature was not a novel experience for the couple; earlier they had floated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans on their homemade shantyboat. Hubbard described this journey in Shantyboat Journal, the basis for his Shantyboat and Shantyboat on the Bayous.

By turns poetic and practical, Payne Hollow Journal celebrates nature's intense beauty and sometimes harsh realities as perhaps only an artist can see them. Here Hubbard reveals how dedication to work that provides sustenance -- gardening, wood chopping, fishing, foraging, and raising goats-can also be fulfilling. Don Wallis's arrangement of the Payne Hollow entries reflects the seasonal changes in Hubbard and his life as well as in the natural world around him.

At the beginning of this volume Hubbard writes, "When we are away from Payne Hollow, that place does not seem real or possible.... It is hard to explain our situation, to give reasons for our living this way to people who have no understanding or sympathy." A visit to the Hubbards' home through Payne Hollow Journal is ample explanation for anyone who has yearned to lead a life of simplicity and purpose.

A New York Times Notable Book and the March 2001 selection of Oprah's Book Club® !

Icy Sparks is the sad, funny and transcendent tale of a young girl growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950’s. Gwyn Hyman Rubio’s beautifully written first novel revolves around Icy Sparks, an unforgettable heroine in the tradition of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or Will Treed in Cold Sassy Tree. At the age of ten, Icy, a bright, curious child orphaned as a baby but raised by adoring grandparents, begins to have strange experiences. Try as she might, her "secrets"—verbal croaks, groans, and physical spasms—keep afflicting her. As an adult, she will find out she has Tourette’s Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, but for years her behavior is the source of mystery, confusion, and deep humiliation.

Narrated by a grown up Icy, the book chronicles a difficult, but ultimately hilarious and heartwarming journey, from her first spasms to her self-acceptance as a young woman. Curious about life beyond the hills, talented, and energetic, Icy learns to cut through all barriers—physical, mental, and spiritual—in order to find community and acceptance.

Along her journey, Icy faces the jeers of her classmates as well as the malevolence of her often-ignorant teachers—including Mrs. Stilton, one of the most evil fourth grade teachers ever created by a writer. Called willful by her teachers and "Frog Child" by her schoolmates, she is exiled from the schoolroom and sent to a children’s asylum where it is hoped that the roots of her mysterious behavior can be discovered. Here Icy learns about difference—her own and those who are even more scarred than she. Yet, it isn’t until Icy returns home that she really begins to flower, especially through her friendship with the eccentric and obese Miss Emily, who knows first-hand how it feels to be an outcast in this tightly knit Appalachian community. Under Miss Emily’s tutelage, Icy learns about life’s struggles and rewards, survives her first comical and heartbreaking misadventure with romance, discovers the healing power of her voice when she sings, and ultimately—takes her first steps back into the world.

Gwyn Hyman Rubio’s Icy Sparks is a fresh, original, and completely redeeming novel about learning to overcome others’ ignorance and celebrate the differences that make each of us unique.

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